How to get into Project Management

I received an email this week asking the best way to get into Project Management.

“I have been working in my current job for over 7 years and I’m working in the civil service but after the pandemic, I’ve looked into getting into Project Management, especially in tech but I really don’t know where to start. I’ve done some research and don’t know if I should do a course in PRINCE or Agile but would appreciate your input and advice”.

I’ve received emails like this quite a lot and wanted to share this input to help others that might also be thinking about entering the profession / changing careers.

  1. Do your research!
    1. This applies to not only certifications but also potential jobs that you could get, the companies that are hiring and what it looks like
    2. Also think about what area of Project Management you want to get into? Is it PMO? Working on larger / multinational projects? Focusing on project implementation?
  2. Discuss with your current employer
    1. Especially in the public sector, there are a wealth of opportunities in Project Management. If you can discuss with your Manager/HR about not only the type of projects that they’re running but also the potential training opportunities that exist. Many companies will pay for your training and certification and this is ideal for your professional development
  3. Look at your current job
    1. If you have a look critically at what you’re currently doing, are you already doing projects? or project activities? Does your current job have any links to ay project delivery initiatives? Could you ask for reassignment to a team that does? or be mentored by a Project Manager in your organisation
  4. Research new jobs and companies
    1. There could be a wealth of opportunities available if your company does not do projects. So look at the potential companies, the wage range etc.
    2. THis can also include recruiters or discussing with peers what might be possible
  5. Learning the fundamentals
    1. This is so critical for gaining experience as a Project Manager. Look at the core activities that you need for good Project Management and reporting and see how you can learn this.
  6. Networking
    1. This can be a great way to learn more about the profession and industry. If you can reach out to thought leaders in the field, most will be willing to set up a call or discuss and share their knowledge.

Certifications:

I would strongly suggest that whatever certification you choose, you make sure that it’s fit for purpose. I.e. do not do Lean/Agile if you’re working in Waterfall projects and also don’t do expensive ‘full’ certifications if you just need the basics.

What’s important to consider?

When people look at potential career changes, Project Management is often the one that many consider, maybe because they think it’s easy, maybe because they do it already in some capacity or maybe because they think that it’s an easy job to do. Being able to give a healthy dose of reality, I would strongly suggest talking to a Project Manager in the area that you want to move into to get a real perspective on:

  • What is a good /bad day like?
  • What’s the best part of your job?
  • What’s the worst part of your job/day?
  • What’s the pay/bonus/perks like?
  • Is it worth a move?
  • Would I be a suitable candidate?
  • What’s your work/life balance like?
  • Stress levels? what’s important to know?

Conclusion

Being a Project Manager can be a great career change but make sure that it’s the right move for you and your career. If you’re not sure, consider talking to a coach or mentor who could discuss with you your wider career goals and potential objectives in the coming period.

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